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Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

France
posts: 2
reviews: 30
Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

Does anyone know who is responsible for rebooking flights in the event of a cancellation when the initial booking is made through an online agent?

I booked flights to and a hotel in Seville through Expedia. When we arrived at the airport for the return flight we were informed that it had been cancelled. We had not been notifed by e mail or SMS that the flight would not depart Seville. The airline (Vueling) refused to rebook us onto another flight as the initial booking had been made through Expedia, not directly with them. Vueling claimed that they had alerted all travel agents to the cancellation six days earlier when they had themselves become aware of planned strike action by Iberia staff (shared ground handling with Vueling) The airline view was that the online agent was responsibile for rebooking our seats.

We rang Expedia. The also refused to help as, in their view, 'the airline had chosen to cancel the flight' so Expedia were exonerated of any further commitment. They would not even look to see what other flight options were available to us. Their only suggestion was that we go back to the airline and if that failed to try Iberia and demand that they expatriate us as it was due to the Iberia strike that we were stuck in Seville airport. We returned to Vueling but they would not budge. We were then given a printed sheet that detailed 'customer rights' . This stated that if the booking was made with an online travel agent then the agent was responsible for any rebooking of flights.

After 3 hours of trying we felt abandoned by Expedia foremost. They had been happy to take our money but were not prepared to assist in any way. Stuck between two companies both denying responsibility we were forced to try other airlines to find a way home. We managed to get seats that night for 190 euros each.

Has anyone experienced a similar difficulty with online agents or does anyone know who has the legal responsibility for expatriating travellers when the booking is made with an agent and a flight is cancelled?

Liverpool, UK
posts: 8,780
reviews: 13
1. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

In my experience it is common for airlines to refer customers to the 3rd party who made the booking as the "contract" is between the airline and the 3rd party - expedia are in my opinion the party that should have resolved the problem.

Your experience is one of the primary reasons I book direct with the airline as you can deal with them direct without being passed from one to the other.

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
posts: 4,985
2. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

Usually the airline would rebook you automatically. They will refer you to the travel agent if you wish to initiate a change, but if it is their issue I have never not had them handle it themselves. It is your responsibility to check the flight status periodically and also a VERY good idea to make sure your trip and phone/e-mail are known to the airline so they can notify you.

Check the terms and conditions of your ticket along with the contract of carriage for the airline. Those will spell out all of the rules.

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7,268
reviews: 15
3. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

"The also refused to help as, in their view, 'the airline had chosen to cancel the flight' so Expedia were exonerated of any further commitment. "

Bollocks, Expedia should have rebooked you. They even say on their website to call them for assistance if your flight is affected by the strike.

Manchester, United...
posts: 338
reviews: 8
4. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

>>>Does anyone know who is responsible for rebooking flights in the event of a cancellation when the initial booking is made through an online agent?<<<

Since Regulation 261/2004 which covers what happens in the event of a cancellation makes no mention of an 'agent' whether online or not, I would tend to lean towards what the Regulation states as this is the legal framework under which a passenger would seek to continue their onward journey.

The Regulation states that it is the operating airline's responsibility to offer the passenger a choice between either a re-route or a full refund.

The answer to the OP's question is therefore the airline.

North Carolina
posts: 1,085
reviews: 23
5. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

Vueling 2 Expedia 2

I'm confused.

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7,268
reviews: 15
6. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

Vueling are legally obliged to rebook you as Travelomancity says but since you booked through Expedia you will normally be expected to sort it out through them (I've got no idea about the legality of the airline insisting on that but it's just how it is when you book through a 3rd party, they will always refer you book to the booking agent if you want to make changes. A refund would go through Expedia as well). It's usually not an issue and I suspect the CSR you talked to at Expedia simply gave you wrong information. As I said, Expedia even has info on their website for passengers affected by the strike and I have had them sort out rebooking in the past myself.

Geneva, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Geneva, Liechtenstein, Air Travel
posts: 3,148
reviews: 264
7. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

The airline is responsible IMV. …europa.eu/transport/…03-air.html for the details.

France
posts: 2
reviews: 30
8. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

Thank you to those who responded. I wanted to let you know that after some communication with Expedia they have agreed to refund the cost of the new flights we were forced to book. Although not said in as many words they more or less admitted that they should have rebooked the flights for us.

I am grateful to Expedia but you live and learn. In the future I'll book direct with the airline even though it may cost a bit more.

Watford, United...
posts: 3,495
reviews: 12
9. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

Thanks for coming back and letting us know the outcome.

Hampshire England
posts: 3,493
reviews: 30
10. Re: Responsibility after a flight cancellation?

In the meantime you are entitled to €250 each under EU261 if the airline cancelled the flight without a valid extraordinary circumstance.